Life Lessons Learned From A Hiatus

Idleness is the root of all evil. The said adage does not ring any truth to me, at least in my opinion. I’ve been idle for almost a year and I am excited for my one year idle anniversary come January 2015. I never asked for this to happen and didn’t even want this to happen especially if it’s unplanned. But the universe has its own uncanny way of bringing surprises that I am unsure and unaware of. I don’t know how to put all these into words or how would I call my situation. So let me call it a happy hiatus. I am not an authority to give tips but I would like you to have a peek into my own world which is a sort of a hullabaloo-meets-oasis kind of thing.

I am branding this year as my lucky year because it is a year like no other. Each year is unique but this one is very distinctive. Losing a lot when situations have gone haywire on the first month of the year is something most folks consider bad luck. Come to think of it, people may brand it as bad luck but it is just our own thoughts making the situations worse as they seem. At first I thought I’ve lost it all — job, money, chances, people, opportunities, you name it! All I can think of is how bad the situation was and a part of my life is over. And then I tried to shift my thinking on a different level. If something bad happens, something good will happen, too. That was a bit excruciating for me because I am not a Pollyanna.

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.” – Hellen Keller

I thought being jobless for a year would make me a useless wimp. Ironic as it seems, I was completely busy. I’ve been touring on my own, hopping from one country to the next either by plane, bus or boat. It was fun meeting new people, all different and beautiful in their own ways. I was like an exchange student and a foster child at some point! Being a lonesome traveler is liberating for me. I do travel on my own but it is my first time to travel for months. Crossing the borders with the other solo travelers and setting our foot in between two borders at the same time is one of my definitions of the word awesome, at least before kicking the bucket.

Finally, my nomad dream came true this year. When you travel alone, you don’t know what to expect. You get to live in the moment and savor every second of it. Sure, sometimes worry sets in and then sadness fills my heart but looking forward to the wonderful adventures take all those sentiments away. Every single day of my backpacking journey is exciting as I do not know what to expect. It is like today I am wandering in this beautiful city then tonight I will sleep in the bus and wake up in another city!

In this happy period, I was also able to write some posts, letters and do the things I always dreamed of doing but never got the chance. I did some moonlighting and yes, it sustained me for awhile to go on with my journey. Along the way, I also met likeminded people who want to share their lives by giving back a portion of themselves. I engaged in helping the less fortunate together with these wonderful people that I’ve met. I also visited old friends whom I haven’t seen for a long time and gave my time to them especially to the ones who need it the most. My life is not about me at all. It’s about them. It is about my loved ones and other people. I am just a dot in the universe also connecting to other dots. By connecting to them, my life is enriched and I feel happy and contented. We don’t need much in life, we just need one another to get through each day. Money can surely buy some happiness but it cannot buy fulfillment.

To begin with, I am not rich and by mere definition, I am poor. I just happened to sustain myself for a year (without working) because of some little preparation. My work as a freelancer does not guarantee a fixed salary every month. It only lasted for three months. So, for the rest of the months, I lived my life as a nomad. What I do is I save every penny that I have years back. Is it impossible? No. If we are living from paycheck to paycheck, we can live below our means and spend money on necessary things only. No matter how little money we have, if we use it wisely and feel grateful for what we have, everything will work out fine. I thought at first, I wouldn’t make it and then December came. Finally, I am closing the year with an unexpected grin on my face. I never believed in myself as much as I believed in myself now.

“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” ― Sylvia Plath

As silly as it may seem, I trusted myself that I’ll get through it. That’s the only option so I am forced to make it happen. While it is true that having a backup plan in life is one of the best things to do, it also makes sense to focus on your main plan. Otherwise, you would just end up doing plan B and may have some regrets later on. At that time, I just jumped right on, not looking back. I also quit over thinking because it kills the mood and makes the vibrations low. I have learned to put myself on a pedestal and love myself more.

Being the spontaneous being that I am, I always go with my gut feel. There are countless times that I have ignored my gut and I was left crestfallen. I blew it and I constantly blamed myself why the hell I am put in this kind of situation. It is when our hearts, minds and intuitions are aligned that magical experiences unfold. It depends on what works for you, if your mind works better then use it more than your heart. It all boils down to knowing ourselves and what works for us. No inhibitions, no pretensions, no whatsoever.

Back then, I am unsure of myself and I was scared of the unknown. I am not brave but I just know that I have to do it. Otherwise, none of all these wonderful things could have happened. Just live life on your terms and let go of the things you cannot control. Even if we are not armed with a plan, we just do it and take a leap of faith and watch what happens.

So what about failure, does it matter? Failure is subjective and it’s up to us how we perceive our failures. Sure it hurts when we fail at something we really want and things don’t go as planned, but when we take failure as an opportunity to learn, that’s the first step to making things happen. We can be right, we can be wrong and we can be both and still fail but as long as we still try and get up every after fall, we will still get to our destination.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill

If you think that you’re living in a rut and have lost hope, please give another chance to yourself. There is always a glimpse of hope, a light in every dark corner and a chance to shine. May you always remember that you are a masterpiece and your story goes on. To all jobless sibs and wanderers, it is not yet the end of the world. Remember, the rest of our story is still unwritten. :)

What’s So Special About The Starbucks Planner?

Planner nerds and planner addicts reunite once again, all because of the much awaited Starbucks Planner 2015! Actually, I do not have one. This planner is owned by a good friend of mine, who asked me to create a customized cover for her SB planner. I customized the insides and included some mini papers and stickers she can use for her SBP.

Bookmark, chalk & coffee ink marker and planner
Bookmark, chalk & coffee ink marker and planner

For those who are wondering how to get this limited edition thingy, you must accumulate a total of 18 stickers (see mechanics). If you’re a coffee addict or a Starbucks fan, this would be an easy feat for you. Otherwise, you will drag yourself and your buddies to drink the beverages just to have the stickers. I am one of the victims but I did it for friendship. How sweet of me, huh?! :D

customized envelope (planner protector)
customized envelope (planner protector)

While it is true that Starbucks are helping communities and some proceeds of this planner go to charities, it will cost a lot of bucks in order to redeem this cute planner made of cloth. Even though it is a bit costly (esp. for folks earning minimum wage), people are going crazy about it — whether to give this planner as a gift for themselves or for their loved ones.

recyclable bag
recyclable bag

So what’s the hype? I guess it’s because Starbucks provide a good experience for every customer. It all started there.  No wonder even if there is a better planner out there, people would always want the one created by Starbucks!

To cap it all off, I always meet Yhang (the owner of this planner) at the so-called world’s third place. It is convenient to meet her there since it is beside her office.

What more can I say? Starbucks has a very good marketing at that. Kudos to Howard Schultz and his talented team for their successful marketing! :)

Is Reading Minds Worth It?

We have seen mind reading pegs in the movies and now, we can finally do it in real life. Why not? But what if we cannot turn it off? Would you still take that chip?

It thrills me that I do not know what the future holds. Sure, I worry like most people but the thrill fuels me to take on more risks and challenges. Knowing what’s on other people’s minds would be a great deal, perhaps. But them, knowing what is on my mind? I would not like that. So what gives?

If reading their minds would also mean that they can read mine, my privacy is at stake. Well, it goes both ways. If the person I am interacting with also has that chip, our interaction would be in a biased state. Having that chip would make my life boring and would make me feel that I am dependent on other people’s thinking.

One might say that a person can get used to it through time but I don’t think I would. I am an individual who value privacy and secrecy at most. I won’t take my friend’s chip unless he reinvents it, where reading minds would be one way only. I would also remind him that people can read his mind, too, once he released his invention. Not good. Confidentiality will be thrown out of the window. No one would want that.

So, count me not. I think my friend’s chip will make my life boring and less thrilling. I would ask him to create another invention or reinvent it so that people can only read the good thoughts. At least, the whole world will experience having beautiful minds even if they don’t turn off that damn chip. :)

* Daily Prompt: Full Disclosure

The Power of 6%

This is a test post. Free writing.

I’ve been oblivious to the fact that it has been two years since I started this blog. I didn’t remember the date and forgot about that. Not that I am date-addicted but I do remember some happy dates in my life and that date is one of those dates — fun dates I supposed.

Why 6%? I got 6% batt power while writing this post. and now, down to 5. They say it is a good practice to just write about anything. You set the time and then get writing. I am down to 5% now.

I have colds. I don’t like this feeling. Teary eyes and running nose and I am not even chasing anyone. Not even the jobs posted in each job/company site. Yes, I am jobless for the nth time but this time I am loving it. :)

I am thinking what to eat later. I am not a gastronome and not even a foodie. I just love to eat and enjoy the experience. Each bite is a blessing and each bite reminds me how rich and thankful I am. Each bite would add up the days to my existence, er, living. :D

3%. What else to write? I am munching on these wasabi coated green peas. Damn, I can feel the heat emitting from my nose due to wasabi. Hahaha!

Really? Now it is 2%. This free writing practice enables us to write whatever that comes to mind in a matter of few minutes. It looks like it does not have any sense but consider your piece of writing as a useful writing prompt. If it is not useful now, it may be useful in the future.

I am not waiting for 1%. I am going to hit Publish button now. Quick. I am just putting this piece and myself out there. Thanks. ;)

Goodbye Umami

When the world began, many senses of taste were born. Among the most distinct of all the senses of taste are these four: sweet, salty, sour and bitter — and then umami came.* What if the umami has not been discovered? What should we call this sense of taste that is good but hard to explain? If someone came up with the term umami, we can also come up with another sense of taste that we recognize! 

If there’s a taste that I can bid farewell to, that would be umami. I can’t say goodbye to the bittersweet taste of dark chocolate, the delicious sour taste of green grapes, the spicy kick of tom yum soup and the irresistible salty taste of bacon! Have I known umami or not, I am okay with the four basic senses of taste. Don’t get me wrong though, I am happy that umami has been discovered but I can live without it.

Note: This is a story I just created. Information may not be correct because I made this up according to what I know at the moment.

* Daily Prompt: Picky Tongues

What’s On Your Mind?

Nothing is on my mind except that I have a brain that tells me to sleep after eating. But how can I sleep when I am so busy finishing my tasks? And another busy person who happens to be my colleague is Anna. She is the last person I saw before reading Daily Post’s prompt: Whether it’s a family member, a coworker, or a total stranger, write a post about what that person is thinking right now.

I respect what other people think so I decided not to be consumed with assumptions. Even if Anna is my friend, I don’t want to disturb her silence by just asking nonsense stuff because she is darn busy. This post is important so I just asked her right away. So I asked her bluntly, “What’s on your mind?” Being the accomodating person that she is, she answered back. With that, I am indebted to her for this post.

“Nothing’s on my mind,” she said. I asked her again and again what pops into her head at this present moment. She’s just hoping that her hubby would strike 5 million for TOTO (lottery) today. But it is so hard to win the lottery. It’s just like punching the moon and standing on the water. On my mind, I hope I would win, too. She has no idea that her answer made me smile. Blame it to my shallow nature or my feeble mind but I am happy that she answered me for my question and that I was able to write about this post. It’s been quite awhile since I left my blog lurking with no recent posts.

My post today is very simple but the lesson that goes with it is profound, or so I thought. If you want to smile amidst all the hustle and bustle of life, talk to a friend. A short chit-chat with a friend would make your mind rest while cortisol levels are maintained and blood pressures become normal. And that’s just what I did now while inhaling and exhaling and writing this post.

Oh, by the way, after our conversation, she sent me this dancing panda. Isn’t she cool? :D

Image

My heartfelt thanks, Anna. If this post gets freshly pressed, I am forever indebted to you. You deserve a real panda and a win for the lottery. :-)

 

 

5 Writing Tips: Be Like the Ants When It Comes to Writing

What is the correlation of ants to writing? An insect is very different to a craft, a hobby or a living – which is writing. Ants are akin to science and many topics have been written about it. In this post, I discuss the connection of the two.

1. Ants hoard foods. We could hoard topics, keywords, tips and ideas, just like writing prompts (see Daily Post and Plinky). All of these will come in handy when the inspiration to write strikes. But what about if there is no inspiration? Then, it leads you to the ant writing tip #2.

2. Ants keep trying. It is normal to have written untitled and unfinished posts, stories, essays or whatever. What’s important is you keep on writing and trying until you find your voice/niche to write and get your creative juices flowing. Being a writer is not easy, even if you are freelancing. What more if it is your full-time job? If it is your job, you should possess the ant characteristic in ant writing tip #3. At least, even a bit.

3. Ants are industrious. They are never lazy. As a writer, one can never be lazy especially if the post is informative and needs critical information and research. It won’t hurt to do some research before putting your written words out there. The information reflected in your writing must be (well, at least) correct and accurate if not near to perfect. No one is perfect but information must be captured well so as not to miseducate your audience.

4. Ants are busy. Was there a time where you remember so well that ants are idle? As humans, we have an excuse to be idle. But, when we start to write, it is better to keep our minds busy than idle the whole time. Taking a hiatus from writing, of course, is a different story.

5. Ants help each other. They motivate each other and they value team work. I have observed the ants in our garden and they greet and help each other carry the load of their fellows. Help is everywhere. We could always ask our friends to give honest feedbacks about what we have written. All we need is to open our minds, always practice and have ample patience until we get the writing done.  Eventually, it will lead to a bit of improvement and good results.

So, be like the ants when it comes to writing and never ever quit.